Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Romance Novels: The Lost Secret Recipe For Happiness, The Secret of Everything, How To Bake A Perfect Life, Author: Barbara O'Neal

 Cooking and baking and eating a path towards truth

AS BARBARA O’NEAL - First she wrote:

The Lost Secret Recipe For Happiness by Barbara O’Neal

The prologue is a scant one page and is a hauntingly beautiful lead in to a hauntingly beautiful book.

These are truths I have been taught:
“Her whole body ached this morning, back and hips from the old injuries, shoulder and neck from trying to erect the armor she had to assemble afresh each and every day, finely honed plates of sharp arrogance and bad language beneath which she - the secret and guarded Elena - could hide.”

And in reverse:
“…-he felt as if he unzipped the outside layers of artifice and masks and walked out of them, unencumbered in his own skin.”

I once lived with a very wise woman who saw my struggles with private sector type jobs and told me that she herself had the same struggles. She used lessons from her heritage to create a ritual that she did every morning where she shielded that place at the core of her being that can get trampled at work.

Every young person could benefit from this gem:
“Just find friends who want to believe in life instead of making fun of it.”

She could have been describing me with this passage:
“Men, she thought with a sigh. She was such a weak and flawed woman. She knew that. She was fond of sugar and wine, and too much coffee, which made her heart rush. She liked sex and the malty smell of it lingering on her thighs. She liked men, nearly all of them, for all kinds of reasons.”

Every creative person faces this risk at some time in their life:
“And yet, if she sat on the fence, offering lukewarm retreads of other people’s ideas, she would fail without question.”

Wonderful imagery here:
“Dismaying how the sound rushed through the cupboards of memory and threw moments out onto the floor. Some good. Some bad.”

Musical mentions: As I write this I am sitting in the midst of a storm and listening to a moving song by Matt Skelenger entitled Storm. Go here on you tube to hear it and see him    Continuing the weather theme try Alice Gomez’s Rain Dance here
Then she wrote:The Secret of Everything by Barbara O’Neal

Where characters eat at The 100 Breakfasts Café. I want to eat there!

I enjoy the way she words this:
“You couldn’t unsee a thing once it was seen, unknow it once it was known.”

And I have unconsciously, actively known this to be true:
“What I know about search and rescue,” he said finally, “is that survivors need to tell their stories over and over until they get them into narratives they can manage.”
Certain traumas in my past lost the power to hurt me once I had put words to them and spoke those words to others to witness.

Her latest is:How To Bake A Perfect Life by Barbara O’Neal

This is one of the dangers of believing that you create your world solely by what you think:
“She read a book that said whatever you think about comes true, and that scares her. What if she can worry him into being dead?”
Maybe you give power to what you dwell on but if we had the power to think something into being or happening how many people would have spent their time and energy thinking a big lottery win?

A beautiful, shimmering sentence:
“Around her she can feel a soft, rustling awareness, as if the plants are talking in very quiet whispers. What do plants think about?”

I am famous in my family for naming my plants, talking to them, giving them a love life. I have a flowering cactus named Alfonso who has a habit of dropping babies into the surrounding plants. I call these his love children. Also, my aloe, Gladys, has given birth to many, many generations. She is a grandmother with lots of greats before her name.

This is so true:
“It’s one thing to live in moonlight and never know there is a sun. But once you know, how can you ever be happy with night again?”

These books are riddled with characters you’ll care about, food and recipes you’ll want to eat and cook or bake, and plots that will surprise you in rare, pleasurable ways. As a bonus for me, they take place in one of my favorite states, New Mexico.

If you like these books, and I did, O’Neal has a whole backlog of books to check out written under the names Barbara Samuels and Ruth Wind.


  1. Holy crap she has more?! I'm on it! Thank you SO much.

  2. “Just find friends who want to believe in life instead of making fun of it.”

    - I like to do a little of both!


  3. Mabel - me too. In this case he was talking to his teenage daughter who had started to get in with a crowd of kids who had that 'I'm too good to care about anything' attitude. You know the attitude, right.

    You are so correct though, I just have to make fun of my life, myself and life as a whole sometimes.